Returned Missionaries and the Russian Minor
We are occasionally asked why BYU does not offer a minor in Russian for returned Russian-speaking missionaries. After all, other language departments provide minors.
There are two main reasons. The first has to do with resources. In the Russian section we are firmly committed to having full-time faculty teach Russian at all levels (from 101 to 492). Having a minor would increase the number of students in our 3rd year courses and so require more full-time faculty to cover these courses, forcing us to hire student teachers for the lower division courses. The obvious solution would be to hire another faculty or two, but the university is currently not able to provide more Russian teachers.
The other reason has to do with the marketability of our graduates. We have found that most of our students are able to improve significantly their marketability by combining their Russian major with that of another field, whereas a minor in Russian means little. Since the requirements for the Russian major are very limited (only 29 hours for a returned missionary!), most students find they can graduate with a double major making themselves more attractive to potential employers, and widening their possibilities in graduate or professional schools.
Though we offer a lean Russian major, the already strong capabilities of our incoming students allows us to promote intensive work in our classes. Consequently, we have one of the finest Russian programs in the country. Our courses teach in-depth language, culture, pronunciation, and the structure of Russian, and we cover some of the most influential works of literature ever written in any language. For more information or to discuss a course of Russian study, please see Dr. Mark Purves, the Russian Section Head.